Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rilke Poem, 'Du, gestern Knabe, dem die Wirrnis kam'


(To the younger brother)

You, yesterday’s boy,
to whom confusion came:
Listen, lest you forget who you are.

It was not pleasure you fell into. It was joy.
You were called to be the bridegroom,
though the bride coming toward you is your shame.

What chose you is the great desire.
Now all flesh bares itself to you.

On pious images pale cheeks
blush with a strange fire.
Your senses uncoil like snakes
Awakened by the beat of the tambourine.

Then suddenly you’re left all alone
with your body that can’t love you
and your will that can’t save you.

But now, like a whispering in dark streets,
rumors  of God run through your dark blood.

From Rilke’s, ‘Book of Hours’ translated by A Barrows and J Macy.

These poems are love poems to God but Italian Renaissance religious art had showed Rilke that, ‘the holy can be rooted in the body and in human relationship’. The poems were written in 1899 after a magical trip to Russia with his lover Lou Andreas-Salome, a beautiful 36 year old Russian woman.

Painting is by Klimpt, ‘Die Tanzerine’ 1916



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